Misfit Jam

Murphy HenryThere was quite a bit of excitement at the jam tonight as Logan, 16, challenged me concerning the chords to a couple of songs. He proclaimed that “Worried Man” and “I Saw The Light” had the same chords. I said they didn’t. He said they did. I said I didn’t know exactly what the chords were without counting them out, but I knew they weren't the same. He said he knew they were the same because...............he was the Bluegrass Master! The rest of us just looked at him with astonishment. The Bluegrass Master? (He had just come back from a week-long summer camp and I think he was feeling his oats!)

I said, “You wanna put some money on it?” He did want to. We confirmed the exact nature of the bet—that he said the chords were exactly the same—and I said, “Can I get a witness?” Ellen was kind enough to witness and she reiterated “exactly the same.” We bet one dollar. (All the time that this exchange is going on, Bob Van Metre, who has fallen into this trap many times himself, was trying to shut Logan up and even offered him a handkerchief to stuff in his mouth! I’m surprised he didn’t get out a roll of duck tape!)

So at the end of the jam, I said, “Alright, let’s see about these chords.” And I got out a pencil and paper to keep track of them as I played them on the guitar. But, no, Logan would not allow that. “You say never to write anything down. You won’t let us write anything down.”

I conceded the point and counted the chords aloud to each song while Mark kept track. As I pretty well knew, the chords were NOT exactly the same. (Even though they were darn close!) Now came the interesting part.

Logan: But you can play the same banjo break to both of them.

Murphy: I know you can but that wasn’t the bet.

Logan: Yes, it was!

Murphy: No, it wasn’t. You said the chords were—and I quote—“exactly the same.”

Logan: But the same licks work for each song, so the chords have to be the same.

Murphy: Yes, they do, but the chords aren’t the same.

Logan: You didn’t count them right!

Murphy: Yes, I did.

Logan: No, you didn’t.

Murphy: I can understand why your mom gets [ticked] at you sometimes!

Logan: Well, how did you know the chords weren't the same?

Murphy: Because I am the Bluegrass Master!

Kaboom! End of story!

Students present: Ellen, Mark, Bob Mc, Bob Van, and, of course, Logan.

Songs played:

Banjo in the Hollow/Cripple Creek/Boil Them Cabbage: all done in unison for our warmup

Blue Ridge Cabin Home
Old Joe Clark
Worried Man (to which Logan played the break for “I Saw The Light” which set up the whole controversy!)
John Hardy
Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms

And for the finale, Shucking the Corn, played really fast by Logan, from whom I am still waiting on my dollar. “When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?”

6 thoughts on “Misfit Jam

  1. Martin Bacon

    That was not a fair bet, because we had that same discussion when I was up there in June. I was just smart enough not to bet you on it.

    I wish I could have been there.

    I have to hear Logan play and I just wish I could have seen your face when he said “I am the bluegrass Master”. It had to have looked even more amused than the time I said my DVD didn’t play Cumberland Gap that way (“O yeah Marty we must have made your DVD differently than everyone else’s.”)

    The student becoming the Master has got to be the dream of all teachers. So tell Logan to keep at it, but tell him it is OK if he takes a few more years to work on it.

  2. admin

    Post author

    I have to point out that you can’t use exactly the same entire break for “I Saw the Light” and “Worried Man” because the first one has two more beats in the ending phrase than does the second. You can, however, use the exact same bread for “Do Lord” and “Worried Man” even though they also have slightly different chords.


  3. Susan Morrison

    Darn it…..!!! Why does all the good stuff happen when I can’t be there (Ruth’s rake and Logan’s challenge)? Susan

  4. Cap Spence

    Sixteen…and male. I am dealing with this sort of thing every day. Not, unfortunately, about banjo chords, rather about life and the living of it.

  5. Cap Spence

    Love this blog, BTW. AM glad you all take the time to do this. It’s not as good as seeing you, but is the only thing I have to get a Henry fix.

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